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A Red Sox Winter Meetings Preview

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Looking ahead to next week’s festivities

MLB: Boston Red Sox-Press Conference Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

We are still sitting here twiddling our thumbs waiting for the Red Sox to do something this offseason to add to their roster. Eventually it’s coming. I think. Assuming it does indeed come, next week is a good bet for it to happen. You see, next week is when the Winter Meetings will take place in Orlando, Florida. This is the busiest chunk of time of the offseason when the biggest players and executives in the game are all in one place for five days. There’s no guarantee that something will get done in this even that starts Sunday and runs through Thursday, but it’s as good a guess as any. With that in mind, let’s take a look at everyone Dave Dombrowski and company should be meeting with over the next week.

Free Agents

The Winter Meetings are more known for trades than free agent signings, but both take place at this event every year. Given the downturn taken by Boston’s farm system in recent years, it seems reasonable that they’d at least attempt to focus on free agents over trade targets. It also seems reasonable that they’d focus on just a few positions, namely first base, second base, outfield (mostly for DH types) and left-handed relievers. Others are possibilities, but this is the focus. Here are the players they should meet with.

First Base

Eric Hosmer

Hosmer is not my top target nor is he many of the readers of this website, but the Red Sox are in the market for a first baseman and they wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t at least meet with one of the top available at the position. Presumably the price will be more than I’d be willing to pay, but my guess is that a meeting will take place, we will hear about it and we will all freak out. It’ll be fun!

Carlos Santana

Santana is one of my top targets for this winter and I explained why here. He is the most consistent first baseman available and could be a steal of a signing. The Red Sox would be foolish to not meet with the former Indian this week.

MLB: ALDS-Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Lucas Duda

If the other options become more expensive, Duda is probably the most intriguing of the cheap first base options. There are durability and platoon concerns, but he’d be able to play the majority of the time and provide the power this Red Sox team desperately wants.

Logan Morrison

Mostly the same as Duda but he hits from the right side, has fewer injury concerns and has a less consistent track record.

Yonder Alonso

One of the big breakouts in the first half of 2017, he’s part of the flyball revolution but not really someone who is close to a sure thing to keep things up in 2018.

Mitch Moreland

Now, we’re looking at fallbacks to the fallbacks, and if the Red Sox get to this point something has gone horrible awry.

Mike Napoli

Ditto.

Second Base

Howie Kendrick

I explained my intrigue in Kendrick on Thursday and although I don’t expect the Red Sox to actually sign him I’d hope they’d be willing to at least meet with him. They should at least try to figure out what he’s looking for on his next team in terms of both contract and role.

Eduardo Nuñez

Nuñez turned into something of a fan favorite despite spending only a couple months in Boston and he is the guy most fans are hoping can be brought back in 2018. I’ve made clear that I don’t think it’s realistic and stand by that. However, a meeting this time of year would be the time to feel out just how much interest he is receiving from other teams.

Outfield/DH

J.D. Martinez

Here is the top target for most and the biggest bat available in free agency. He is a legitimate slugger and while there are concerns there is little doubt that he’d be able to mash at Fenway. Obviously there needs to be a line drawn with his contract and it’s very possible he’ll earn more than the Red Sox are comfortable paying. That being said, it’d be a fireable offense to not at least keep tabs on his market.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Bruce

Bruce is sort of the backup to Martinez, but I think that’s only really a possibility if his market comes in way lower than expected. With the Mets reportedly interested in a reunion, I wouldn’t really expect much from this.

Left-Handed Relievers

Tony Watson

Watson has some question marks but should be had on the cheap and has the upside to be one of the stronger left-handed relievers in the American League.

Jake McGee

McGee has some experience in the AL East as the former Rays closer, and while he has been inconsistent at times he still shows back-of-the-bullpen flashes.

Boone Logan

With Minor off the board and Watson and McGee getting most of the remaining headlines of this group, Logan could come away as the steal with his strikeout ability. Obviously, he could also be a total miss given his command inconsistency.

Trade Partners

Although free agency is likely the preferred route for player acquisition this year, you can bet that the Red Sox will also be meeting with teams this week to try and work out some trades. The positional targets would likely be the same as the free agent, because duh. Here are the teams with whom Dombrowski either should or (I predict) will try to strike a conversation, in no particular order.

Chicago White Sox

Targets: Jose Abreu

We’ve already had some rumors about the Red Sox looking at Abreu and having conversations with the White Sox, though nothing has come up about those in a couple weeks. There have also been more recent reports that an Abreu trade looks unlikely at this point. Still, I’d be surprised if conversations weren’t at least reopened on this front.

Detroit Tigers

Targets: Miguel Cabrera, Nick Castellanos

I don’t expect either of these targets to be particularly popular nor do I necessarily think they are great targets. However, they both could fit in Boston’s plans. Cabrera would, of course, slide into first base. Castellanos would probably be the DH, assuming they came in separate deals. I doubt either will be in Boston this year, but I could see Dombrowski talking with his former team about both of these players.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals

Targets: Whit Merrifield, Scott Alexander, Ryan Buchter

After losing Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain in free agency, it seems the Royals are looking at another rebuild. Their biggest assets (assuming they hold on to Salvador Perez) would be Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria. However, the Red Sox don’t really need another back-end right-handed reliever, so instead I could see them looking at a couple of quietly solid lefties in Alexander and Buchter. Merrifield would probably cost more than the Red Sox want to pay, but he’s an intriguing option as a nominal second baseman who can handle other positions around the diamond.

Oakland Athletics

Targets: Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis

I am not going to pretend I know what Billy Beane is thinking at any given moment, but if he is indeed willing to rebuild then Lowrie and Davis would both make sense for the Red Sox. Lowrie would fill the second base/utility role while Davis would be a huge power bat who would slide right in at DH.

Atlanta Braves

Targets: Freddie Freeman

I suspect the Braves would immediately end the conversation as soon as Freeman’s name was brought up, particularly considering Boston’s farm system, but hey why not ask?

Cincinnati Reds

Targets: Joey Votto, Adam Duvall, Raisel Iglesias

What I wrote about Freeman also goes for Votto, combined with the fact that Votto can refuse any trade and seemingly wants to stay in Ohio. Still, it’s worth a shot. Duvall, meanwhile, has quietly been one of the more consistent power hitters in baseball over the last two years and could handle DH/fourth outfield duties. Iglesias, meanwhile, is a right-handed reliever but he’s a special pitcher who could handle a multi-inning role. I’m not convinced he’s really getting traded, but everyone should be interested if he does hit the block.

Miami Marlins

Targets: Justin Bour, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich

No, the Red Sox are not going to jump back into the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes at the last second. However, the Marlins have other pieces they’ll look to sell. I think Ozuna and Yelich are almost certainly longshots, but Bour is a perfect fit for first base and seems to be a little underrated. At least he is in terms of national attention.

San Diego Padres

Targets: Brad Hand

After what went down with Drew Pomeranz, it would be understandable if the Red Sox didn’t want to deal with A.J. Preller again. That being said, they’d be passing up on the best left-handed reliever available this winter. Hand is an incredible talent and would immediately make Boston’s bullpen one of the better groups in the league.

Other Tasks

  • Dombrowski should also be trying to meet with representatives of his own players. Specifically, those who are either reaching the end of their current contract or those who haven’t reached long-term extensions yet. There isn’t a lot of reported mutual interest in extensions for the moment, but these conversations should be kept open at all times. For a list of players who fit this criterion, see this post from earlier in the offseason.
  • At the end of the Winter Meetings comes the annual Rule 5 draft in which teams have the chance to draft some unprotected minor leaguers and try to keep them on the active roster all year. Boston generally doesn’t participate much in this draft, though they did pick up Josh Rutledge last year. If they do participate this year, look for them to take a reliever or an outfielder. Also remember there is also a minor-league section of this, so some players will be added to the organization on Thursday.